With a general election looming, we have a valuable opportunity to engage our politicians in the debate about climate change. Brexit is usually the top news story when it comes to politics, but climate change is a much bigger deal. Climate change affects everyone on the planet – people, animals and plant life. If we don’t act quickly and drastically to keep the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic and outside our control. As individuals there’s a lot we can do, but our political leaders are the ones with the most power to make big, impactful changes. It’s essential that they act on climate change first and foremost.
In the Preston constituency, we have five candidates standing for election:
- Mark Hendrick is the current MP and will be standing again for Labour
- Michele Scott for the Conservatives
- Michael Welton for the Greens
- Neil Darby for the Lib Dems
- Rob Sherratt for the Brexit Party
You can find their contact details by entering a Preston postcode here.
Up until December the 12th, Climate Action Preston will be in touch with all five candidates, demanding to know what they intend to do about climate change if they are elected.
Preston is a “safe Labour seat”, meaning that based on the last general election in 2017, it’s fairly easy to predict that Labour will win the vote in this constituency. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother to engage with local politics. Whoever is elected is going to represent us, the people of Preston, whenever they vote in Parliament. We want them all to know that we expect to see climate change at the top of their political agendas.
Climate Action Preston will be doing this in a number of ways:
- We’re currently in the process of organising a climate change hustings. I’ll share the details as soon as they’re confirmed. I’ll be looking for questions to be submitted by the public in advance.
- We’ll be asking each candidate to sign up to Friends of the Earth’s climate change pledge. You can use your social media power to do the same. Keep an eye on our twitter account if you want to see exactly what we mean.
- In this blog I’ll be exploring each political party’s manifesto to investigate their policies relating to climate change. You can subscribe to be kept up to date with the latest posts.
At the time of writing, only the Green Party have released a manifesto, so I’m starting with them.
Their foreword states:
Above all, the climate and environmental emergency rages from the Amazon to the Arctic. The science is clear – the next ten years are probably the most important in our history.
Then the first section of their executive summary:
To tackle the Climate Emergency, and deliver social justice, we propose:
The Green New Deal
The Green New Deal will invest in our shared future, funding improvements in:
Energy: including the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy.
Housing: including the provision of better insulation for all homes that need it, the delivery of major heating upgrades for 1 million homes a year and the creation of 100,000 new energy efficient council homes a year.
Transport: including the delivery of a public and sustainable transport revolution, which will allow people to travel cheaply and safely on new trains, buses, cycleways and footpaths.
Industry: including support for businesses to decarbonise and the provision of training to give people skills to access millions of new green jobs.
Food, Farming & Forestry: including the planting of 700 million trees and support for healthy and sustainable food and farming systems.
Incomes: including the creation of a Universal Basic Income, paid to all UK residents to tackle poverty and give financial security to everyone.
New green homes, new green transport and new green jobs will get us on track to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and provide new opportunities for everyone to live happier and more secure lives. This will be a combined investment of over £100 billion a year in the Green New Deal, with an additional investment in Universal Basic Income.
The manifesto then goes on to use 20 pages (not including pages of images) to break down exactly what they would do for each of these points.
I would like to point out that the manifest is 92 pages long in total – climate policies are only a part of the party’s plans, but they feature heavily and have priority.
So what would a vote for the Green Party look like in Preston? Well it would almost certainly not result in a Green MP for Preston, because as I mentioned above, we’re a “safe Labour seat”. But votes for other parties are still counted up and added to local and national statistics. A vote for a party like the Greens send a message to whoever does become our MP that there are people in Preston who care about Green Party policy, which includes a lot on climate change.
Climate Action Preston is an apolitical group. We don’t favour any one political party over another. That’s why I’ll be looking in the same way at all the available manifestos of the parties represented by Preston candidates over the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to tell you how to vote because that has to be an individual decision, but please consider the climate when you do vote. That could mean deciding on your candidate, and then emailing/tweeting them to say something like this:
“I think I want to vote for you on the 12th December, but first I want to know what you intend to do about climate change if you are elected to represent me.”
If you do tweet, we’d love to be tagged: @PrestonAction #PrestonClimateElection